Last updated: October 15, 2003
Jon Cohen, Radical Organizer Dies
We are sad to announce a death in the WBAI family. Jonathan Cohen, a member for the past three years of the WBAI Local Advisory Board, died last night of complications from leukemia. He was 40 and had been ill for more than two years. A proud bisexual, he is survived by his partner Liz Roberts, the Outreach Coordinator of the Brecht Forum, two sisters, his parents and many friends. Jon Cohen was a longtime activist for peace and justice, and worked professionally as an organizer and activist in the movement to end violence against women.
Bob Lederer, the editor of the WBAI Website and Folio and co-host of "Health Action," was a friend and colleague of Jon Cohen.
Jon Cohen devoted all of his adult life to the fights against racism, sexism, heterosexism and imperialist war. His activist resume -- both in St. Louis where he lived for many years, and in the New York metro area for the past decade -- included not only leadership of many organizations and campaigns in but also numerous civil disobedience arrests. In the 80s he was co-chair of the National Organization of Men Against Sexism. In the 90s he was active with the NY Free Mumia Abu Jamal Coalition and supporter of many U.S. political prisoners. For more than a decade, he was a member of the National and Executive Committee of the War Resisters League. I knew him as a colleague in the anti-imperialist collective called Resistance in Brooklyn, and as a tenacious fighter on the WBAI Local Advisory Board against the pro-corporate Pacifica coup that snatched our station, and then after WBAI and the network were reclaimed, as a strong voice for affirmative action in the Pacifica bylaws. More than all this, Jon was a gentle and loving spirit, who brought respect, calm and caring to everything and everyone, and who dared to struggle lovingly with people to overcome the negative conditioning of this society. I want to read a short excerpt of a memo he wrote this past winter on racism within the peace movement that exemplifies his spirit and commitment:
QUOTE - White people need to stop insisting on defining problems related to race and above all, must cease from telling people of color that there is no problem when people of color indicate that they perceive a problem. People of color live with overt and covert racism every minute. Those of us who are white miss a lot of the subtleties. UNQUOTE
Jon was also devoted to integrative healing, combining conventional and alternative medicine in his tenacious fight to survive. In his final years, he became a passionate critic of the abuses of the medical-industrial complex.
Jon's loss is incalculable to all our movements for peace and justice, not only locally but nationally.